A55 - Conwy Tunnel Lighting Project
Updated 4th February - 12:00
The scheme to replace the lighting in the westbound Conwy tunnel was completed yesterday, 3rd February - one week ahead of schedule. Welsh Government officers are pleased that the scheme had only slight impact on road users but nevertheless the methodology used to carry out the works will be evaluated to see if any fine tuning might have made things even better. Motorists will see a distinct difference now that the old lighting system has been replaced with LED lighting and state of the art control systems which will reduce energy consumption considerably, whilst still meeting current design standards.
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As part of a programme to update and improve the systems at the Conwy tunnels an initial phase will be the replacement of the lighting in the westbound bore.
The work will include the installation of 3km of support steelwork, held up by 2,500 fixings; the new light fittings will be attached to the steelwork and to power and control the lighting over 4km of cabling will be needed. Other elements include integration into existing control and back-up power systems.
The tunnel has now been in operation for over 20 years and the equipment in the tunnel has reached the end of its design life, thus maintenance costs and disruption caused by unplanned closures of the tunnel to rectify faults has increased disproportionately.
Legislation and design standards have also changed over the years and the tunnel now needs to be brought into compliance. Technology has also advanced and the new system will significantly reduce energy consumption (and cost) through the use of LED lighting and the need for regular maintenance will be reduced.
The works will be undertaken in late January/early February 2013 when the westbound bore of Conwy will be completely closed 24/7 for a maximum of 4 weeks with traffic running in contraflow in the eastbound bore.
Initially, the eastbound bore will be closed overnight on 8th and 9th January with traffic in contraflow in the westbound bore. This is to allow planned maintenance works to be carried out in the eastbound before contraflow traffic is put through it the following week. All traffic management will then be removed.
On Sunday 13th January cylinders and studs will be put through the eastbound bore and traffic will be put into contraflow ready for the lighting works to commence on 14th January. The aim is to complete the works and clear the tunnel carriageways by Sunday 10th February at the latest.
It is a contractual requirement that the contractors work 24/7 and although January/February temperatures are far from ideal for them to carry out the work, this period has been chosen as traffic flows are at their lowest so disruption to travellers will be minimised as far as is possible. Any unforeseen change to the timescale will be publicised on this website but the emphasis will be on ensuring that the works are completed on time and much effort has been put into planning this work.
A number of other options for carrying out the works have been looked at in detail, in particular night-time only working which would allow the majority of travellers to carry on unhindered during the day. However, the safety of workers and drivers has to be paramount and we concluded that the risks in closing the tunnel each night and re-opening each morning for up to 3 months was too high.
The new lighting system will utilise LED technology that will provide an efficient method of lighting the tunnel, reducing power consumption and minimising the need for ongoing maintenance over the next 20 years of the life of the tunnel.
The new system will comply fully with current standards but it has to be noted that it will appear very different to the driver. This is because new technology allows the light to be focussed where it is needed, whereas the old technology flooded the whole tunnel with light below the luminaire.
LED lighting in tunnels is relatively new to Wales. It is anticipated that the lighting system will reduce electricity consumption by up to 50%; this due to the LED technology and the ability to control the new system more dynamically.
The current fluorescent lighting requires each lamp (there are 1221 of them in the westbound bore alone) to be changed every 2 years but the new LED technology does not require this costly, time-consuming activity and as we modernise the other tunnel systems the focus will be on reducing to a minimum the number of tunnel maintenance closures we have each year.
During the works period we expect that up to 800 wide/abnormal loads will want to travel through Conwy tunnel. We have consulted with the Road Hauliers Association and North Wales Police to ensure that relevant parties are fully informed of the works. Rather than default to diverting abnormal or wide loads, the majority of which are transports of static caravans, via the A470/A5 we intend to arrange off-peak short duration tunnel closures to all other users whilst the loads are escorted through the contraflow bore. Disruption to normal traffic will be slight.
Average Speed Enforcement
Throughout the duration of the works average speed enforcement cameras will be deployed to assist in minimising the risk to all road users. The maximum mandatory speed restriction will be 40 mph. We encourage all tunnel users to comply with these restrictions and, in case of incident, to obey all traffic signals.
The speed cameras will be installed during November so that they can be tested and calibrated but they will not be used for enforcement purposes until the 40mph limit is put in place in January and they will be removed when the works are complete in February.
Planning for the works has included consultation with the emergency services and the way it will affect their standard response procedures in the unlikely event of an incident occurring in the tunnel contraflow.
A recovery service will be present on site 24/7 during the works to enable us to clear the carriageway of any incident as soon as is possible. This is for safety and for minimising disruption to other road users.
The general public can get up-to-date traffic information during the works on 0845 6026020 or on this website.